Fear – is it the limiting factor?

Over the few days in Thailand I ended up a little trek I never thought I would do.   I have been scared of heights – not always but over last 10 years – maybe it was kind of an age thing.  Nevertheless, I have recently disliked chair lifts, heights, etc.  

So, on this trip, there was a ‘flying fox’ cable jungle trip – 15 stations – sliding down a rope over 20 story high trees on a rope.    In theory very safe BUT in reality for someone scared of heights, very scary.

Nevertheless, I though it would be ‘fun’ to try and to stretch a bit.  So, Alex and I, signed up and ended up doing the 15 flying foxes through the Thailand jungle.   It was scary, exhilarating and definitely pushed my boundaries.  For Alex, that is not afraid of heights, it was pure joy!

This whole experience had made me think about ‘fear’ – what is fear?  Why do we fear things?   What does fear stop us from doing?   Can one truly be fearless?   And  if one was truly fearless, what kind of doors would that open.

The more I though about it, the more I came to realize that ‘fear’, this fuzzy defined word, ‘fear’ – is what actually limits us.

Lets takes example learning a new language, we may not want to speak to someone in a new language because we ‘fear’ embarrassment.   If we look deeper, we actually fear criticism, non acceptance, etc.   No, what if we didn’t have fear – and where truly fearless – could we learn a language faster?

Lets look at ‘fear’ in terms of how it plays on our physic when it comes to making life changes.   Lets say, my goal is to exercise more.  But, since I haven’t exercised for some time, I ‘fear’ pain, discomfort.   So, ‘fear’ is stopping me from starting.  

So,  I think if we take this a level deeper, I think ‘fear’ ultimately means ‘death’ to some people.   Another words, if you fear something, you either worry that you will die or some small part of you will die.     I know its a fast jump, but if you write this out as causation you would get:

Fear –> Loss –> Death = No Action

So, with above, I think many of us take “No Action” because we fear, we don’t want to loose, and we don’t want to die.

But lets reverse the above equation, and make it so that we want Action (action being assumed a positive)

We transform above and say:

No Fear –> No Loss —> No Death = Action

So, look above – if at the root of our core we are not affair of death, we will not be scare of loss, we will not fear and we will take Action.

So, I think at core of people that take action is people that have no fear of death.   People that have faced death, have conquered it – and no longer fear it – get rid of fear and become able to act.

So, this is just a quick postulate I had formed after getting off, scared shitless, of  a flying fox in Thailand.   I want to read a bit more physic books on ‘fear’ – and its core roots.  But I have this strange feeling that not being afraid of death empowers one to take actions.   How is that for deep thought.

Looking at it from me, I have faced death, direct, immediate death 9 times in my life.    Not, something like, a close call, bad accident BUT rather a realization that there is big likely hood (90%+) that I may not be alive in 24 hours from now.   How scary may you say!   How empowering I say.    I think this is one of the reasons that I’m afraid of so few things – after all – not only did I face death, faced the fear, accepted the outcome BUT also, made it through it, survived – and did it more than once.   If I’m not afraid of dying, what else could really scare me?   And if I don’t get scared, it means no fear.  And if I have no fear – it means – action.   So, I am able to act, take chances, knowing that I fear nothing.  Obviously, the above is not 100% since I still ‘feared’ heights – BUT really, through the process of overcoming it – the self awareness of why I was afraid – made me ‘unafraid’

As I go through next few years, I’m going to pay attention to my ‘fear’ – to look for times when I block myself because of perceived ‘fear’ – and I will come back to this article to remind myself that whatever ‘fear’ I pain in front of me, is fiction not reality.

I think also this above topic would make for a very, very cool workshop for C level management.   The C level folks are usually tasked with making decisions and taking actions.   If they ‘block’ themselves because of fear – they are ultimate not performing to their utmost potential.  And, I now have seen so many C levelers that stop short – and fizzle or loose power – when the risk (and fear) becomes stronger.   

It would be interesting to see how many ‘near death’ experiences the CEO of the most successful companies had in their lives.   This could likely be hard to find out – BUT my hypothesis is that a large number (80%) of high performing CEO had faced death in the face before or on their way to the top.